Within the diverse range of necklaces and pendants offered at AC Silver, there is that perfect piece to flatter any neckline.
AC Silver offers an impressive range of vintage and antique necklaces and pendants, the majority of which are encrusted with diamonds and gemstones and available in platinum and gold.
The diverse collection contains fine examples from the Victorian and Edwardian eras, through Art Deco and Retro designs and into more modern mid-twentieth century styles.
Necklaces and pendants make excellent gifts for a range of occasions. Birthdays, anniversaries, and Valentine’s Days are all improved by the gifting of an antique or vintage pendant. Whether you are browsing for yourself or someone else, there is bound to be something perfect for your needs within our extensive catalogue.
The earliest necklaces discovered have been dated to roughly 5,000 years ago. Natural materials like shell and bone were carved with holes to be worn on woven twine about the neck. It’s likely that the initial purpose of these necklaces was as a form of good-luck charm. Equally, mounting bone from a successful hunt onto a necklace is comparable to wall-mounting a stag’s head today; a way to boast one’s prowess from a glance.
Necklaces have also been used to display religious devotion. Ancient Egyptians wore large bib-style necklaces featuring an array of coloured and carved beads. These necklaces were designed to represent the wearer’s piety for specific gods, hoping to earn their favour. Ancient Egyptians also used coloured glass in the creation of their necklaces. While most ancient jewellery pieces consist of natural, earthy colours, Egyptian items are usually replete with rich colouring. The beads used in their necklaces were also forms of currency; this this was the case for many cultures. Egyptian beads have been found in sites across Africa, while non-Egyptian beads being found within Ancient Egyptian ruins - indicating their heavy use as objects of trade over time.
Materials used in necklaces have always been modified in some form or another to be more suitable for human desires. Carving figures, animals, plants, and relevant symbols into stones, bone, beads, or metals allows a necklace to have greater significance and meaning for the wearer. Returning to Ancient Egypt for an example, necklaces featuring depictions of the eye of Horus were used to ward off evil intent. Often, these symbols were carved as pendants, being worn on a metal chain, like gold.
Necklaces and pendants also represent the wearer’s power and authority over any given situation. In Medieval Europe, kings, lords, and powerful members of the clergy wore exorbitantly large gold necklaces similar in appearance to collars, ornamented with heavy enamel and gemstones. The intention of these pieces was to make it immediately obvious to the unlearned that the wearer was incredibly important. Being able to flaunt wealth and power with just a piece of jewellery was essential for maintaining a strong rule over broad areas in the Middle Ages.
During the 1600s, large, stiff, starched ruffs became incredibly fashionable. With a ruff adorning the neck, there was little room for necklaces or pendants like those which had previously been worn. Instead of abandoning the style altogether, however, those with means simply wore larger and longer chains, with necklaces and pendants concluding around the navel rather than the decolletage.
When ruffs and stiff collars fell from favour around the early 1700s, necklaces and pendants once again became a more standard length. The fashion surrounding necklace length has generally changed alongside popular neckline lengths for much of the last 300 years. Today, necklaces and pendants still represent status, religion, and lucky totems around the world.
Throughout time, necklaces have maintained a position of serious sentimental value in cultures worldwide. For many contemporary users, necklaces represent a way to display that which we keep close to our hearts. The Victorian trend of wearing lockets with pictures of loved ones continues today. Furthermore, modern necklaces customised to features names, initials, or important dates allow necklaces to carry deeply personal meaning.
There are also necklaces which immediately convey a universal message. Cross pendants, for example, are in instant indicator of the wearer’s religious leanings. Certain styles of crosses can even narrow the strain of religion further. A crucifix depicting Jesus on the cross, for example, is usually only worn by Catholics. Equally, some people wear cross pendants as a reminder of their love and sacrifices, without necessarily having a strong religious presence.
Not all necklaces have religious symbi ology, however. Often, necklaces are representative of love heart pendant being amongst the most popular jewellery styles of the last century. This versatile style is usually given as a gift, either by family, friends, or a partner. Wearing the love heart pendant symbolises the strength of the union between two people. In the late 20th century in particular, platonic love heart pendants were extremely popular.
As fashion trends have changed throughout history, so have necklace designs. Within our own collection, we have antique necklaces in a plethora of different styles. One such style is the choker. Chokers are thought of today as a countercultural piece of jewellery that was popularised in the 1980s. The reality, however, is that chokers first rose to prominence in the Victorian era. We are fortunate enough to have multiple chokers from throughout the last 150 years.
A unique necklace design that was created around the turn of the 20th century is the sautoir necklace. At the time, the fashion trends involved dropped waistlines and loose-fitting clothes. The sautoir necklace is a very long beaded necklace, often including an elegant sequence of pearls. These antique pendants typically end around the navel area, accentuating the straight-up-and-down silhouette that was in fashion at this time.
The love heart pendant has been a popular necklace design for multiple centuries. Inherently romantic, the love heart shape is ideal for giving to loved ones. This design has been used across a range of styles as well, including lockets and chokers. Over time, the popular shape for hearts to be has evolved also. The exaggerated heart shape was especially popular in vintage necklaces. Collecting love heart pendants from different eras is popular among many jewellery fanatics.
Asymmetrical necklace designs first became popular in the 1920s. In these pendants, there are two strings of gemstones – often diamonds – are different lengths. This is an effortless and elegant style, popular since its inception. Our collection of asymmetrical necklaces is extensive, with pieces from a range of eras in a selection of metals.
Today, the main fastening type you’re likely to find in necklaces and pendants is the conventional spring ring. There is also the lobster claw fastening. Both of these make use of a lever-style mechanism to secure necklaces into place. For antique and vintage pendants and necklaces, however, there are a range of clasp types to consider.
The slide clasp is one of the most ubiquitous clasp types in antique and vintage pieces. Thankfully, this mechanism works in an easily understandable way. The tongue of the clasp slides into the receptacle and clicks to lock, keeping the necklace securely in place. The shape of the slide clasp is usually rectangular, although there are variations on this in more unique pieces.
Another common clasp type is the barrel closure. This is similar to the slide clasp in its internal mechanism. The rounded barrel style in necklace fastenings is simplistic and sophisticated. It adds a subtle touch of elegance to the otherwise plain chain of the item itself.